George Russell says that “totally wrong” information from the Mercedes pit wall regarding the weather ruined his Dutch Grand Prix “before it really got started.”
Russell, who was bidding to land a podium from third on the grid, stayed out on slick tyres beyond the end of Lap 1 when many opted to pit as the rain descended.
Whilst he made a pass on Lando Norris to assume the lead, Russell’s time out front was cut short by Sergio Perez charging through on the Intermediate compound.
Although he was still able to recover from down the order to be in contention for points, the British driver’s race came to an abrupt end in the closing laps after picking up a puncture from slight contact with Norris.
However, Russell contends that his race was virtually over already once Mercedes read the worsening weather conditions wrong.
“Yeah, the race was over before it really got started,” he lamented.
“I think the information we had regarding the weather was totally wrong. We thought the rain was only going to last a couple of minutes and clearly it lasted for longer so that was a real shame.
“A podium was missed, and then we made a good recovery. And then just the contact with Lando, an unfortunate racing incident causing the puncture. Disappointing, but good we had a fast race car.”
The one-time Formula 1 race winner underlines that Mercedes must conduct a thorough review of the circumstances that witnessed both its drivers squander a potential top-three finish at Zandvoort.
“As a team we need to review, because we’re getting the information coming in to us and it was misjudged,” he declared. “It’s not anything to do with racing or engineering. It was clearly just a weather misinterpretation and that ruined our afternoon.
“So, we need to look into what happened, why the others decided to pit and what information maybe they had that we didn’t to make sure we don’t make the same mistake again.”
Russell argues that in mixed conditions the drivers are increasingly reliant on the teams for information, with Mercedes instructing its drivers that the shower would only be brief.
“Yeah, they told me it was going to be two minutes and I could manage for two minutes in those conditions,” he asserted.
“It just got heavier and heavier and lasted for ten minutes. It’s a joint effort but it’s a real shame to be honest that it happened this way, but you live and learn.”
After dropping to outside the points places, Mercedes opted to place Russell on the Hard compound when the track surface dried up in the hopes of not pitting him again.
However, Russell quickly became a sitting duck for those who had gone onto fresh Soft tyres, and his hopes were dealt a further blow by contact with Tsunoda leading to his car suffering from extreme vibrations.
When asked about the moment at Turn 7 that saw him almost end up in the barrier as he sought to keep his team-mate behind, Russell explained: “Yeah, I had contact with Tsunoda earlier in the race, about five laps before, and I had a massive vibration. In the high speed, I was struggling to see.
“Looked a little bit in my mirror and next thing I know, I was off the track. Glad to have kept it out the wall, good thing about these tracks is there’s no room for error.”
The ex-Williams racer believes that he had the pace to stay ahead of the pack behind him without the issue.
Questioned on whether he was receiving those vibrations prior to the clash with the AlphaTauri, Russell responded: “No, it was literally from the incident with Tsunoda.
“It lasted for about five laps so I lost probably three or four seconds of race time. It’s a shame because I probably could have stayed ahead of Lewis, Fernando [Alonso], [Pierre] Gasly I think it was who came out the pits. It could have been a very different story.”